Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

Our 14-year old son injured his shoulder and his elbow playing baseball. We think he's too young to be playing as hard or as long as the coaches put him in for. Are there any guidelines for this age group?

More and more young baseball athletes are reporting arm injuries. As a result, many studies have been done on adolescent baseball pitchers. Using the results as a guideline, the USA Baseball Medical and Safety Advisory Committee has put out some guidelines for young pitchers.

The goal is to avoid injury. Parents are advised to pay attention and respond to any arm pain or discomfort reported by the players. Athletes are encouraged to notify coaches and parents of any problems. They are not to cover up the symptoms with ice and antiinflammatories and still play.

Pitch counts should be tabulated daily in games and practices (not just games). The following specific pitch numbers are recommended for the safety of adolescent baseball pitchers:

  • No more than 80 pitches in one game or practice.
  • No more than eight months each year.
  • No more than 2500 pitches per year.

    Monitoring types of pitches is also important. Pitchers between nine and 14 years old should work on the basics and fastball pitching. Working on breaking pitches are not advised in this age group because of the risk of shoulder and elbow pain.

    Samuel J. Olsen II, MD, et al. Risk Factors for Shoulder and Elbow Injuries in Adolescent Baseball Pitchers. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. June 2006. Vol. 24. No. 6. Pp. 905-912.

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